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The Depot Theatre in Westport NY
The Depot Theatre in Westport NY

Theatre Review: "Almost, Maine" at the Depot Theatre

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Almost, Maine is running at the Depot Theatre in Westport through September 20. Resident theatre critic Connie Meng was at the opening night and has our review.

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Connie Meng
Theatre Critic

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ALMOST, MAINE by John Cariani is a wonderfully whimsical play about potential, incomplete, aborted and finally fulfilled relationships.  First produced in 2004, playwright Cariani is a working actor who began writing by first writing audition material for himself.  ALMOST, MAINE is his first play and here's hoping he keeps on. All the twelve scenes take place on a cold night in midwinter, many outdoors, and feature various inhabitants of an unincorporated area that is "almost" a town in Maine.  Most of the relationships are also "almost" ones.


All eighteen characters, ten men and nine women, are played by four accomplished actors: Kent Burnham, Kristin Johansen, Paul C. Kelly and Caroline Treadwell.  All four are the kind of actors who, when they walk onstage, the audience immediately likes, and the characters in this play are nothing if not likeable.


It's hard to pick out favorites as all the scenes are very good, but Kristin Johansen is terrific in "Seeing the Thing," as are Caroline Treadwell and Paul C. Kelly in "Where It Went."  Kent Burnham and Miss Treadwell both give strong performances in the poignant and touching "Story of Hope."  Mr. Kelly and Mr. Burnham are both hilarious in "They Fell," one of my all-time favorite pieces of off-beat humor.


Director Chris Clavelli has also designed a simple set with snow banks backed by a dark cyc that features a scattering of stars.  A few pieces of furniture indicate location changes.  Iain Whitecross has done a fine job with the lighting, especially the Northern Lights.


Jean Brookman's costumes are very good. It's interesting to see how many layers are needed to ride a snowmobile. The woman sitting next to me was laughing so hard she had to wipe her eyes.  By the way, whoever's helping the actors with the very nippy costume and set changes deserves a curtain call!


Mr. Clavelli has done a really nice job of staging and directing ALMOST, MAINE, and has made some great music choices.  Most importantly, he and his cast have made these quirky characters thoroughly believable. They made me hope that maybe somewhere in the world there IS a repairman who can fix broken hearts.


ALMOST, MAINE is a poignant, funny and smart play that provides a wonderful evening of entertainment.  Although at times it has an air of whimsy, at bottom the characters are very human.  It's great fun to see an ironing board used in slapstick comedy and I kept giggling at the frequent use of the localism, "jeezum crow!"  I want to add that this is a very limited run.  There's a performance tonight, then only four more, the 17th through the 20th.  So - if you want to head into Fall smiling, head over to the Depot. 


On a scale of one to five the Depot Theatre production of ALMOST, MAINE gets five box cars and a caboose.  For North Country Public Radio I'm Connie Meng.

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